Scent Leaf (also known as effirin in Yoruba, nchuanwu or arigbe in Ibo and daidoya in Hausa) is a plant native to West Africa (Nigeria) and also Southern Asia (known as Holy Basil). It grows as shrubs in most of Nigeria.
Scent Leaf is a culinary herb as well as a medicinal herb and has many health benefits, but the main reason am writing about the scent leaf is because of it’s ability to help lower excess stress hormones, namely cortisol levels, in the body.
When stress is triggered; the cortisol levels increases, and once these stressful episode are over, cortisol levels should drop, but if the stress doesn’t go away or if a person’s stress response gets stuck in the “on” position; cortisol may stay elevated.
The adrenal glands release a hormone called cortisol, and cortisol increases appetite and May also ramp up motivation in general, including the motivation to eat.
Why stress causes people to overeat
Researchers have linked weight gain to stress, and according to an American Psychological Association survey, about one-fourth of Americans rate their stress level as 8 or more on a 10-point scale. Imagine our western friends on 8, I wonder where we African’s would be on a scale of 1-10
Do you know that stress can either shot up your appetite or shut down your appetite? Lets go there! A structure in the brain
called the hypothalamus produces corticotropin-releasing hormone, which suppresses appetite. The brain also sends
messages to the adrenal glands at the top of the kidneys to pump out the adrenaline. Adrenaline helps trigger the body’s fight-
or-flight response, a revved-up physiological state that temporarily puts eating on hold. On the other hand, there is much truth
behind the phrase “stress eating’’. Cortisol increases appetite, so that people will want to eat more to obtain extra energy. It
also increases storage of unused nutrients as fat because physical or emotional distress increases the intake of food high in
fat, sugar, or both.
Overeating isn’t the only stress-related behaviour that can make you gain weight. When you are stressed, you lose sleep,
exercise less, and drink more alcohol, all of which can contribute to excess weight. Research suggests a gender difference in
stress-coping behaviour, with women being more likely to turn to food and men to alcohol or smoking.
Fact is that overweight people have elevated insulin levels, and stress-related weight gain is more likely to occur in the presence of high insulin.
If cortisol levels are too high, you may notice some weight gain, particularly around the lower abdomen. High cortisol level
can make it difficult to lose weight and to maintain a healthy weight.
Reducing Stress Level with Scent Leaf
This is where scent leaf comes to your rescue (Yippy). Scent leaf is also an “adaptogenic herb” meaning that it helps the body
adapt to stress. The two main compounds found in scent leaf that gives it the adaptogenic qualities are: eugenol and
caryophyllene. These two compounds help to lower cortisol levels and improve the way the body reacts and responds in times
of increased stress. It can also be used as a preventative measure because taking it on an ongoing basis when you are not
particularly stressed can actually reduce the amount of stress hormones your body will produce when it is under stress. The
scent leaf is not a cure for all stress, it will help support your body in times of stress, but it is going to be most effective when
combined with other diet and lifestyle behaviours.
The scent leaf is not only amazing for helping to regulate cortisol. In traditional medicine; scent leaf is used to help treat and prevent a number of illnesses:
- Helping to balance blood sugar in those with diabetes
- Stomach ache
- Poor circulation
- Skin conditions
- Tumor protective
- High antioxidant content
Scent leaf is a super herb that can help with so many health issues. It can be prepared as tea; by using 3 to 5 scent leaf (leaves) sliced with 250ml of boiling water, then cover, and let it simmer for about 5 minutes before straining the leaves ( i chew mine) off and drinking or can be made into paste for soup.
One should be cautious about using scent leaf if you have low blood sugar, trying to get pregnant OR taking blood-thinning drugs.